Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic Party’s vice-presidential nomination in a deeply personal speech served not only to energize Democrats excited about a history-making woman on the ticket but to introduce herself to voters across the country who may not know much about her.
The California senator and former state attorney general is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian parents. Harris embraced her heritage in a recognition of the historic nature of her inclusion on a major party ticket.
Harris was born in Oakland, California, to Shyamala Gopalan, a biologist who studied breast cancer, and Donald Harris, professor emeritus of economics from Stanford University. After her parents divorced, she spent her teenage years living with her mother and sister in Canada before attending college at Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C., and law school at the University of California, Hastings.
The introduction of Harris to the country was very family-focused. Harris’s sister Maya Harris, niece Meena Harris, and stepdaughter Ella Emhoff — whom Harris has said calls her “Momala” — delivered a nominating speech for the California senator.
It was not long, though, before Harris transitioned her family ties to a campaign pitch in support of the Democratic presidential nominee and her partner on the party ticket, Joe Biden.
Talking about her mother, Harris said that she is “committed to the values she taught me, to the word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight, and to a vision passed on through generations of Americans — one that Joe Biden shares. A vision of our nation as a beloved community —where all are welcome, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we love. A country where we may not agree on every detail, but we are united by the fundamental belief that every human being is of infinite worth, deserving of compassion, dignity, and respect. A country where we look out for one another, where we rise and fall as one, where we face our challenges and celebrate our triumphs. Together.
“Today, that country feels distant. Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said, speaking from Wilmington, Delaware.
She then painted a dark picture of the current political environment, building on a sense of urgency to remove Trump from office.
“We’re at an inflection point. The constant chaos leaves adrift. The incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: We can do better and deserve so much more. We must elect a president who will bring something different, something better, and do the important work. A president who will bring all of us together — black, white, Latino, Asian, indigenous — to achieve the future we collectively want. We must elect Joe Biden.”
In one of her sharpest lines of the night, Harris stuck with one of the convention night’s overarching themes of persevering though adversity and carrying forward the mantle of civil rights.
“This virus, it has no eyes and yet, it knows exactly how we see each other and how we treat each other. And let’s be clear: There is no vaccine for racism. We’ve got to do the work,” Harris said.
Harris’s speech came on the third night of the convention, which built on a progressing theme.
The first night of the Democratic convention essentially had an anti-Trump theme, showcasing four Republicans along with far-left Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who concurred that Trump is unfit to be president. The second night, the convention took a unifying turn as Democrats across the country officially nominated Biden to be the party’s presidential candidate.
Wednesday night was forward-focusing about Democrats’ priorities and vision, with Harris, who 77-year-old Biden essentially put in a position to be the next leader of the party, representing its future.
“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” Harris said.